Venezuelan President Maduro Arrives in New York for UN General Assembly

The Venezuelan leader is expected to deliver his General Assembly speech later on Wednesday. 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said via Twitter Wednesday afternoon he was landing in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

"I come to the General Assembly of the United Nations to defend the truth about Venezuela, to bring the voice of our country," the president said on Twitter, in a video from the plane.

Nicolás Maduro @NicolasMaduro Aterrizando en Nueva York para participar en la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas. Traigo la voz de todo mi pueblo, vengo cargado de Pasión Patria para defender la verdad.

He asserted that he arrived in New York "full of passion and truths so that the entire world knows that Venezuela is standing up ... I also come to receive the solidarity of governments and peoples."

  • Published in World

Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Kiev hit the streets to demand: Hey Trump! Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!

For over 56 years, the Cuban people have been enduring an unjust U.S. blockade, which has negatively impacted their daily lives. One example of the cruel effects of the blockade is the damages caused to the Cuban healthcare system. In this sector alone, the monetary damage is estimated at more than $87 million just in one year.

Despite all these challenges and obstacles by the Unitec States, Cuba is world renowned for its universal health care system, which has achieved a lower infant mortality rate than many first world countries, including the United States and Canada!

On December 17, 2014, former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Cuban President Raul Castro made the historic announcement that they would be moving towards normalizing relations. Although positive first steps were made towards lifting the U.S. blockade on Cuba, this progress was stalled under the Obama administration. Now the Trump administration has made efforts to turn back completely the progress made.

Here in Vancouver, after the 2014 announcement Cuba solidarity activists mobilized to protest the U.S. blockade, knowing that a big push of public opinion was needed to keep this momentum going in the right direction. Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) was formed and started organizing monthly picket actions in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver. Vancouver is now joined by Ottawa and Montreal, Canada and Kiev, Ukraine in united and coordinated monthly actions against this criminal and unjust blockade and demanding that the U.S. return the U.S. occupied territory of Guantanamo to Cuba!

In Vancouver on August 17, 2018, Cuba solidarity activists and their supporters marched in front of the U.S. consulate holding picket signs high and chanting “Hey Trump, Lift the Blockade!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!”. Between rounds of picketing, the protesters gathered together to hear from local speakers, as well as to hear a phone message of solidarity from Ottawa Cuba Connections, who also protested that day in front of the U.S. Embassy.

To wrap up the action, protesters gathered together for a photo in front of the U.S. Consulate doors, proudly holding a banner reading “End the Blockade of Cuba!” This photo was shared on Twitter and Facebook around the world to spread the word that supports for Cuba and protest against the blockade is alive and well here in Vancouver!

  • Published in Cuba

US: Trump Administration Misses Deadline To Reunite 3,000 Kids

Some 1,600 kids have not been reunited with their parents after being separated at the US-Mexico border. Advocates say some kids lost in bureaucratic 'black hole'.

The Donald Trump administration has missed the deadline to reunite some 3,000 minors with their parents after they had been separated at the U.S.-Mexican border under the administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy.

RELATED: US Judge To Donald Trump: 'Reunite Migrant Families Or Pay'

Only about 1,400 of 3,000 children that U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunite by Thursday, July 26 have been given over to their parents.

Government lawyers said that 711 of the kids were “not eligible” for reunification. Of that number 431 of the minors couldn’t be reunified because the parents were no longer in the United States - the majority were deported or self-deported, being told by U.S. immigration authorities they would be reunited with their children faster if they left the country.

After Thursday’s court filing with Judge Sabraw, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) official Chris Meekins told reporters the agency was awaiting guidance from the court about how to proceed with the children of 431 parents no longer in the United States. They are currently under the custody of the DHHS Office of Refugee Resettlement.  

Douglas Almendarez who was separated from his 11-year-old son at the border returned to Honduras after being told his child was already back in the country.

"They told me: 'He's ahead of you'," Almendarez, 37, told Reuters from his home outside the capital city of Tegucigalpa. "It was a lie."

Between mid-May and late June, the Department of Justice implemented a ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the U.S.-Mexico border as an attempt to deter the influx of Central American migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter the country. Over 2,500 people were arrested, most with kids in tow. Sabraw demanded that all kids forcibly separated from their parents - some 3,000 - be reunited in his June ruling.

After public outcry Trump vowed to end the separations, a move he was doubly forced to comply with under Sabraw’s June ruling.

Lee Gelernt, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which brought the case against the government, accused the government of "picking and choosing who is eligible for reunification" and said it would "hold the government accountable and get these families back together.”

The government has not yet provided the ACLU with information about future reunifications, including the location and timing of them.

"This information is critical both to ensure that these reunifications have in fact taken place and to enable class counsel to arrange for legal and other services for the reunited families,” says an ACLU statement.

Immigration advocates say some kids were lost into a "black hole" as the government had no set system in place to reunite families.

Maria Odom, vice president of legal services for Kids in Need of Defense, said two children were sent from New York to Texas to be reunited with their mother. When they arrived, they learned she had been deported, Odom told reporters.

Odom said her group does not know where the children, aged 9 and 14, have been taken.

It was an example, she said, "of how impossible it is to track these children once they are placed in the black hole of reunification."

The ACLU and government lawyers will return to court on Friday to discuss how to proceed.

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Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to US Supreme Court, Democrats outraged

President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Democrats are alarmed that he will overturn rulings about abortion and same-sex marriage.
If approved, Kavanaugh would fill the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement last month.

To be successfully confirmed, Kavanaugh needs 51 votes in the Senate. Republicans currently hold a 51-49 majority, but Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) is battling brain cancer and is unlikely to be present for a vote. Vice President Mike Pence can break a tie, but even a single Republican breaking with the party would hold up the nomination, assuming the Democrats are unanimous in opposition.

Kavanaugh was on the shortlist of nominees along with Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

The 53-year-old, who was the White House Staff Secretary under George W Bush, has served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for the past 12 years.

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on board Air Force One © Eric Thayer‘Generally conservative’ candidates on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist, nomination coming soon
Favored by many Republicans for his work with Solicitor General Ken Starr to impeach President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, the Yale graduate also appears to have many critics. Some Republicans, as well as the Democrats, view Kavanaugh's previous rulings on abortion and health care cases as way too conservative, claiming that they violate the rights of many people in American society.

“His nomination should be a non-starter for every member of the Senate concerned about the integrity of the special counsel's investigation and worried about the Court undermining the rights of women to make their own medical decisions; civil rights; the rights of Americans to quality, affordable healthcare; voting rights; the rights of workers to organize for better wages and working conditions; and more,” Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) said in a statement on Monday.

Other controversial topics include net neutrality and the judge’s belief that criminal investigations should not involve active presidents, a clear problem for some lawmakers amid Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.

“President Trump is currently a subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, and any nomination of a Supreme Court justice while that investigation continues is unacceptable because of the clear conflict of interest inherent in the President installing someone who could be the deciding vote on a number of potential issues from that investigation that could come before the Court,” Booker added.

“Democrats in the Senate should use every tool at their disposal to stop Judge Kavanaugh from being confirmed. This is a fight worth having,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) tweeted, expressing what appears to be a widely shared view among lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) claimed that Kavanaugh stands “outside the mainstream” when it comes to dealing with healthcare, executive power, privacy and even gun safety. “We need a nominee who understands that the court must protect the rights of all Americans, not just political interest groups and the powerful,” she tweeted.

At the same time, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) called Trump’s nomination a “shameful effort” to roll back the progress that has been made in the US when it comes to civil liberties.

While Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing will take place in the fall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already warned Trump that his nominee might have a difficult confirmation battle over the other shortlisted candidates.

Yet, following Trump's nomination, McConnell called on his colleagues “to put partisanship aside and consider his legal qualifications with the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command.”

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Hillary Clinton attacks Trump for 'all-out war on truth, facts and reason'

Hillary Clinton has excoriated Donald Trump, telling an audience in New York press rights and free speech are “under open assault” under an administration she compared to an authoritarian regime that threatened “the end of freedom”.

“We are living through an all-out war on truth, facts and reason,” Clinton said at the PEN America World Voices Festival in Manhattan on Sunday.

“When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes, like the size of a crowd at the inauguration, when they refuse to accept settled science when it comes to urgent challenges like climate change … it is the beginning of the end of freedom, and that is not hyperbole. It’s what authoritarian regimes through history have done.”

The former presidential candidate, secretary of state, senator and first lady was delivering the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture. She began by discussing threats to press freedom and free speech including in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But she soon turned her remarks to the US under Trump, saying such freedoms were “in the most perilous position I’ve seen in my lifetime”.

“Today we have a president who seems to reject the role of a free press in our democracy,” she said. “Although obsessed with his own press coverage, he evaluates it based not on whether it provides knowledge or understanding, but solely on whether the daily coverage helps him and hurts his opponents.

“Now, given his track record, is it any surprise that according to the latest round of revelations, he joked about throwing reporters in jail to make them talk?”

The reference to revelations from memos by former FBI director James Comey was Clinton’s only reference to Comey, who was fired by Trump.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clinton’s remarks were followed by a conversation with novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Under friendly questioning, Clinton was asked if she had “hit back” enough during the campaign – a reference to a childhood episode in which, Clinton has written, her mother gave her permission to hit back at a bully.

“I now think that I didn’t,” Clinton said. She described the much-discussed moment when Trump was “stalking me on that debate stage”. She recalled thinking: “What do I do? Do I turn around and say: ‘Back up, you creep?”’ But then, she said, “the coverage would have been, ‘She can’t take the pressure, she got angry.”’

And so, she said she told herself: “You just have to be calm and in control. Because ultimately what the country wants is someone who is not blowing up in the Oval Office.”

“Well, you know that did not work out so well,” she said, to laughter.

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Cuba says won't accept US threats or pressures

Cuba on Saturday slammed U.S. policy towards Latin America, calling it a return to a past of "domination and impositions," adding that Havana won't accept threats or pressure from Washington to modify its political system.

"Cuba won't accept threats or pressures from the United States. It doesn't want confrontation, but will not negotiate or cede one millimeter in its socialist principles," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in remarks at the ongoing eighth Summit of the Americas.

Rodriguez, who was leading the island country's delegation to the meeting, highlighted that the thawing ties between Washington and Havana were maintained since 2015 until Donald Trump assumed the U.S. presidency and decided to roll back the detente.

"The U.S. economic blockade and the financial persecution continue, but at the same time Washington is further isolated when it comes to their policy towards Cuba," he said.

According to the foreign minister, Cuba is currently in the presidential election process that will last until April 19, 2019 when Cubans decide a new president to succeed incumbent Raul Castro, younger brother and fellow revolutionary of Communist Cuba's founder Fidel Castro.

In addition, Rodriguez said that the younger generations in Cuba are closely linked to the ruling Communist Party, and that they will "firmly" commemorate the Fidel-led revolutionary troops' victory in defending the island against a U.S.-masterminded aggression in the early 1960s.

He was referring to the failed Playa Giron -- literally Bay of Pigs -- invasion of Cuba in April 1961 by U.S.-sponsored mercenaries comprised of mostly Cubans traveling in exile to the United States after Fidel Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

"Cubans, especially the younger generations, closely linked to the (Communist) Party, founded by (Jose) Marti and Fidel (Castro), together with Raul (Castro), will commemorate firm, secure and optimistic victory against the mercenary aggression in Playa Giron," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez warned of Washington's aspiration to re-establish its "imperialist domination" in Latin America, imposing Cold War era policies and a return to the "Monroe Doctrine," a 19th century strategy to control the region for political and economic purposes.

"Now the objective is to restore imperialist domination, destroy national sovereignties with unconventional interventions, overthrow popular governments, reverse social achievement and restore continental neo-liberalism in a continental scale," he said.

The Cuban diplomat said Washington has returned to the "use of force" and the "imposition of unilateral coercive measures" in its policy towards the region.

"We will only advance through integration and unity within the diversity that led to the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Recent events show that the Organization of American States (OAS) and especially its secretary general are mere instruments of the United States," he said.

The official also expressed the island country's solidarity with Venezuela, saying the exclusion of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from the summit was a "historic setback" imposed by the United States.

The diplomat also condemned Saturday's missile strikes on Syrian government facilities by the United States, Britain and France.

Suspended for decades by the OAS, Cuba only returned to the Summit of the Americas in 2015 when the seventh version of the gathering was held in Panama.

  • Published in Cuba

Head of CIA: Gina Haspel, Linked to Torture

The EFE Spanish news agency reported in Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that the CIA Headquarters will be occupied by a woman.

We are talking about Gina Haspel who up until now worked as deputy director of that espionage agency.

Haspel, 61 years old, ran in Thailand one of the first torture centers known as "black sites" that the United States opened to extract confessions through torture.

She also played an important role in this program, on the grey side of the law, after September 11 to imprison and interrogate alleged suspects of terrorism, under the Bush Administration.

Haspel, said the agency, oversaw herself at least two extreme interrogation sessions where tortures were used, what disclosed an investigation of the Senate.

The suspects were Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri.

The first one was subjected 83 times to "waterboarding" according to documents revealed in the North American Congress.

Gina Haspel's name was also related to the destruction of nearly 100 videotapes of black site interrogations in 2005 that were filed in Thailand.

She was promoted in 2013 to head of a CIA clandestine unit, a position confirmed by the Senate.    

According to EFE, the president instead of rejecting these tortures, he back them up, therefore Haspel fits right in the picture of Trump’s CIA era.

It was also made public the outing of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, position that will occupy Mike Pompeo, current CIA director.

The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, sent an official statement of the leader where he stressed that under Tillerson’s time great things had been achieved in the last 14 months."

In this document Trump repeated his "trust" in Mike Pompeo and "he is the right man for the job at this fundamental moment and he shall continue our program of restoring the role of the United States in the world."

According to what Sanders said, Trump asked Tillerson to move aside.

But according to Assistant to the Secretary and Director of Public Affairs, Steve Goldstein, Tillerson didn't speak with Trump and he ignores the reason of his removal.

Goldstein affirmed "The Secretary of State intentions of staying due to the critical process made in matters of national security".

If what’s been written so far uncovered the conflicting panorama of the White House, the new succession of events, as a clear warning, corroborates it.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

U.S.’s ‘Cuba Internet Task Force’ exposed as attack on Cuban sovereignty

Washington, D.C. — This Workers World reporter was able to intervene in favor of socialist Cuba as the new Cuba Internet Task Force held its inaugural public meeting on Feb. 7 in the U.S. State Department headquarters here.

The task force’s conclusions are set up to promote the same violations of Cuba’s sovereignty practiced since Cuban revolutionaries toppled the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959.

Those U.S. tactics, aimed at regime change, have failed. The mission description of the State Department’s task force admits its goals in euphemistic language: “The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba including through [U.S.] federal government support of programs and activities that encourage freedom of expression through independent media and internet freedom.” This means the U.S. aims to encourage those hostile to the Cuban government to use the internet for these goals.

It’s no surprise the U.S. Agency for Inter­national Development sits on the task force. USAID contracted Alan Gross to install military grade covert communication devices in Cuba in 2009. Gross was arrested in December 2009 and spent 5 years of a 15-year sentence in a Cuban prison.

The U.S. government initiated and funded the TV/Radio/Internet propaganda media, given the misappropriated name of Cuba’s national hero, José Martí. This media group has a seat on the task force, as does its oversight agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Initially, 10 slots for 3-minute public comments were planned for the Feb. 7 public meeting. Five speakers of the original 10 opposed the task force objectives and its attack on Cuban sovereignty.

WW reporter speaks at meeting

Besides covering the public meeting, Workers World participated; this reporter’s remarks are published here:

“Even after the last presidential election, Pew Research polls demonstrated that 75 percent of people in the U.S. support diplomatic relations with Cuba and 73 percent support ending the U.S. blockade of Cuba. I am one of them. The statistics hold for Cubans in the U.S., too. One hundred and ninety-one of 193 countries voted to oppose the blockade just last November at the United Nations General Assembly.

“The Federal Register announcement says the purpose of the Cuba Internet Task Force is ‘to examine technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba.’

“Have any of you been to Cuba? When you go, you will see as I have with my own eyes the Cuban people communicating using smartphones at the expanding number of hotspots. They are talking with friends and relatives in the U.S. and other countries. Home internet is beginning. Public notice is given about the plans for reducing internet prices. And the prices really do go down. Cubans use Facebook and Twitter and email.

“In 2009, I was with a group of British union officials in Havana when their cell phone rang — their phones worked in Cuba, but mine did not. Canadian phones worked in Cuba. Now my phone works in Cuba, too. The Cuban telecom company ETECSA has agreements with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and Google. Those agreements became possible when this government — not the Cuban government — this government stopped blocking them.

“After 120 years, the United States must come to grips with the fact that Cuba does not belong to the United States. How is it proper to sit in the U.S. State Department and discuss this matter as though Cuba is not a sovereign country?

“Do you want to assess challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access? Let’s start with my city, Detroit. The FCC reported as recently as 2015 that 40 percent of my city’s residents have no access to the internet. Let’s use the budget for this Task Force and the previous radio/TV and internet regime change projects dreamed up in Washington for infrastructure to bring quality, affordable internet access to all in cities like Detroit and rural areas, too.

“So to improve internet access in Cuba, negotiate with the Cuban government in a respectful and equal way, end the blockade and travel restrictions, and return the occupied Guantánamo territory to the Cuban people.”

  • Published in Cuba
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